Bush and Murtha: The Battle Over Revolutionary War History





In speeches in Philadelphia President Bush and war critic Rep. John Murtha used dueling lessons from the Revolutionary War in support of their positions yesterday.

Speakling at a meeting held by the World Affairs Council, Mr. Bush said:

A few blocks from here stands Independence Hall, where our Declaration of Independence was signed and our Constitution was debated. From the perspective of more than two centuries, the success of America's democratic experiment seems almost inevitable. At the time, however, that success didn't seem so obvious or assured.

The eight years from the end of the Revolutionary War to the election of a constitutional government were a time of disorder and upheaval. There were uprisings, with mobs attacking courthouses and government buildings. There was a planned military coup that was defused only by the personal intervention of General Washington. In 1783, Congress was chased from this city by angry veterans demanding back-pay, and they stayed on the run for six months. There were tensions between the mercantile North and the agricultural South that threatened to break apart our young republic. And there were British loyalists who were opposed to independence and had to be reconciled with America's new democracy.

Our founders faced many difficult challenges -- they made mistakes, they learned from their experiences, and they adjusted their approach. Our nation's first effort at governing -- a governing charter, the Articles of Confederation, failed. It took years of debate and compromise before we ratified our Constitution and inaugurated our first president. It took a four-year civil war, and a century of struggle after that, before the promise of our Declaration was extended to all Americans.

Speaking just a few blocks from Mr. Bush at the Ritz-Carlton hotel, Mr. Murtha said that if the French had remained in the United States after the Revolutionary War,"we'd have thrown them the hell out of here."

The Iraqis, he said,"are not against democracy, they are against our occupation."




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